If your dog has eaten a tube of zinc oxide you are right to be concerned, zinc oxide can be harmful to dogs if ingested and it is important to notify your veterinarian of any significant ingestion as soon as possible. Zinc oxide is found in many topical products these days and is reported to be affecting more and more dogs. These products are either applied to human skin and licked off, or dogs ingest them directly by chewing on a tube of zinc oxide accidentally left within Rover's reach. Fortunately, zinc oxide poisoning in dogs can be successfully treated if caught early, but time is of the essence once your dog has eaten a tube of zinc oxide.
Products with zinc oxide
Zinc oxide is found in several topical products available by prescription or over the counter.
Products containing zinc oxide today include diaper rash creams (Desitin, Balmex, Boudreaux Po-Paste), sunblock, and a variety of creams, lotions, and ointments applied topically to the skin to treat scars, burns, and other forms of skin damage.
Zinc oxide is also found in a variety of anti-dandruff shampoos, hemorrhoid ointments, calamine products, and dental cements.
Zinc Oxide is made from a trace element known asthey are relatedwhich when mixed with oxygen leads to zinc oxide. The product obtained is not soluble in water, which makes it interesting for use in creams and skin care products.
Dogs' inquisitive nature makes them prone to licking products off their owners' skin, or if a tube or bottle of a product is left within reach most dogs will enjoy chewing on it, resulting in ingestion of the product. This leads to many cases of zinc oxide poisoning in dogs when significant amounts are ingested. But how much is too much?
My dog ate a tube of zinc oxide
Whether or not the zinc oxide ingested by your dog is toxic depends on several factors such as the amount ingested, the concentration, the size of the dog and the clinical symptoms developed.
Of course, the more the dog picks up, the more likely serious problems are. Concentrations of zinc oxide vary by product. For example, an average diaper cream can contain between 10 and 40 percent zinc oxide, while sunscreen can contain between 1 and 25 percent.
In general, licking just a bit of sunscreen off a child's face (less than a spoonful) is less of a concern than having a dog eat an entire tube of diaper cream, the vet points outDr. A.S. HERE. B.If the puppy or dog has managed to ingest the tube along with the zinc oxide, then another sign to look out for is signs of intestinal obstruction.
Size matters too, it takes less product to cause problems in a small dog that only weighs a few pounds compared to a large dog that weighs many pounds. What is the toxic dose of zinc oxide in dogs? According to the vetDr Matt, the toxic dose of zinc oxide in dogs is 45 mg per pound.
signs of problems
Zinc oxide products are known to be severely irritating to the dog's digestive tract. As a result, dogs who ingest it experience repeated bouts of white, frothy vomit shortly after ingestion (usually within four hours). This vomiting is actually a good thing as it helps the dog's body get rid of the substance and therefore decontaminate itself, lowering the rate of absorption. Some dogs also develop diarrhea in addition to vomiting.
While just a single lick of a zinc-containing product can cause indigestion, more worrisome is repeated exposure to zinc products (like a dog licking it every day) which can lead to itsystemic zinc toxicosisaffect the whole body and lead to hemolytic anemia and organ failure.
We see an example of this in theTextbook of veterinary medicine. One dog developed a rectal mass and after the surgery the owner repeatedly applied zinc oxide cream to the area hoping the dog would heal faster. The dog willingly licked it, and on the fourth day the dog got sick. It has been estimated that the dog must have ingested about 3/4 pound dose of the 40% zinc oxide cream. Fortunately, the dog recovered after supportive care.
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"If your pet is ingesting a topical cream containing zinc, you may not need to worry unless it has been ingested multiple times or in large amounts. However, certain types of topical medications (e.g. skin cancer or psoriasis treatments) can be very dangerous - or even deadly - to pets."~VCA Veterinary Clinic
What to do if your dog ate a tube of zinc oxide?
If your dog ate a tube of zinc oxide, contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can provide instructions on how to use 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if ingestion is recent (within 2 hours). In general, most dogs will vomit on their own sooner or later due to zinc oxide being a stomach irritant, but the sooner it is removed from the system the better.
In dogs that show no symptoms, theASPCAThe Animal Poisons Center advises giving the affected dog some milk in hopes of at least minimizing intake. There is a possibility that the milk may help to coat the stomach and thus decrease the body's absorption of zinc.
If vomiting occurs, owners should withhold food and water to give the stomach some time to rest and recover. Food and water should then be introduced gradually a few hours later, ideally in the form of an easily digestible diet such as boiled white rice and cooked chicken or meat-free baby food without garlic or onions, given in small, frequent meals.
In dogs that also ingest part of the tube, the owner must watch for signs of intestinal obstruction (repeated vomiting for more than 24 hours, lethargy, loss of appetite, inability to hold down water or food). Adding bulk to the diet in the form of whole wheat bread, cooked brown rice, or plain squash can help pass bits through the digestive tract, but a veterinarian should be consulted if the dog's vomiting persists.
Contact your veterinarian if your dog has vomited blood or there is blood in their stool. The presence of blood can indicate damage to the dog's gastrointestinal tract, explainsDR Von Wismer, veterinarian and diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology. The damage can consist of gastric and intestinal ulcers.
Also see your vet if your gums are turning pale, which is a signAnämieand can generally show up within a day or two, the vet explainsDr. A.S. HERE. G.However, this is usually a sign seen with continued use and not a one-off event. In general, dogs should start feeling better 12 to 24 hours after the vomiting has subsided.
“Contact with zinc oxide is usually not life-threatening. Most owners are able to manage the signs at home, but veterinary care may be needed if clinical signs persist.”~Samantha Wright, Brandy R. Sobczak,
At the veterinary office
If your dog ate a tube of zinc oxide, your veterinarian will request information about the dog's history, the type of product ingested, how much, and how long ago. It is helpful to bring the product packaging with you so the veterinarian can assess the product's concentration and whether there are other ingredients of concern.
If the dog's vomiting is persistent, the vet may decide to administer itCerenia against vomiting in dogs. Cerenia can be administered by injection, bearing in mind that the pill form is not to be held down.
After the vomiting has stopped, the vet may prescribe gastric protectors to protect the stomach lining from further damage. The vet will look for electrolyte abnormalities and fluids may be given if needed to prevent dehydration.
As always, caution is advised when it comes to zinc toxicity in dogs. If you have any doubts about how your dog is doing or are unsure of how much has been ingested, play it safe and see your vet or emergency vet when your vet is closed. Your vet may want to run some blood tests just to make sure nothing is going on systemically.
"The good news is that zinc is a terrible irritant to the stomach lining, so they often vomit up most of the ointment before it has time to sit in the acidic stomach environment and be absorbed."DR. Kara, veterinarian
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- Textbook of Veterinary Medicine, by Stephen J. Ettinger, Edward C. Feldman